HUDSON – For Jeff Marsh, being a small town police chief has always been about helping others.
“It’s community policing way before community policing was ever a thing. It’s a way law enforcement should have always been done,” said Marsh, who retired Friday after more than 20 years as the head of Hudson’s police department and a total of 36 years in law enforcement.
Marsh said he inherited his interest in law enforcement from his father, Arnold Marsh, who had served as a deputy with the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office.
“I always enjoyed watching him and riding along with him in the old days,” Jeff Marsh said.
Jeff Marsh grew up in Waterloo and earned his associates degree in police science at then Hawkeye Technical College before moving on to study sociology at Wartburg College in Waverly.
His father was preparing to retire from the sheriff’s office when he succumbed to cancer at age 61. It was just a week to the day after Marsh’s mother died, also of cancer.
“Right before he got his official retirement, he passed away. And a week later, I got hired,” said Jeff Marsh, who was a junior at Wartburg at the time.
Marsh landed a job as a jailer with Black Hawk County and was hired a for deputy position a year later. He later moved to Hudson, and after five years with the sheriff’s office, he took a position as a patrolman with the Hudson Police Department in 1989.
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While many young people seek police jobs with bigger departments, Marsh said he chose Hudson because he wanted to make a difference.
“I was a citizen here. You kind of have that hometown pride. Hudson is that kind of town you always want to say you are from,” Marsh said. “You always want to make an impact on your community, and in a town this size, you really can. All the work you are putting into it, you get to see the results from it.”
After five years, the department created the position of sergeant for him, and he was later hired as chief. During his tenure, the department has grown from just three officers to a total of six who now provide 24-hour police coverage to the town of about 2,300 people.
Among his accomplishments, Marsh instituted a drunken driving prevention project at the high school. Titled “Every 15 Minutes” — after the interval of which intoxicated driving claims a life in the United States — the program used a mock crash scene, tours of an emergency room and personal accounts to show the danger.
Marsh recently moved to Fayette County, where his wife grew up and still has family.
He said he plans to take on another job in retirement, something other than law enforcement, but hasn’t decided what.
Daniel Banks, the former Tripoli police chief and past part-time chief for Sumner, had been hired to be the new Hudson police chief.